Parkinson SuperWalk brings hope to thousands

Blake Bell

In pouring rain or brilliant sunshine; on a lakeside trail or inside a hockey arena; no matter the weather or location, once again Parkinson SuperWalk inspired thousands of everyday heroes and offered hope to every Canadian living with Parkinson’s disease. Each day, more than 25 people will learn they have Parkinson’s, and the Parkinson SuperWalk community inspires hope.

More than 10,000 participants laced up their runners or volunteered at 91 Parkinson SuperWalk events across the country, most of them held on September 10 and 11. Early estimates indicate that more than $2 million has been raised to date. And anyone can continue to support SuperWalk participants by making a donation online until October 30.

For the first time, this year’s Parkinson SuperWalk declared a National Hero, Blake Bell of Toronto, who won the title after receiving five nominations in a nationwide contest. In their nominations, Bell’s colleagues, friends and family called him an “inspiration,” and praised his warm and positive attitude.

“I admit I cried after reading the nominations I received and learning that I was named the National Hero. That’s not how I think of myself, I simply want to treat people well, and trust that they’ll do the same for me,” he says.
As the National Hero, Bell opened the Parkinson SuperWalk at Ashbridges Bay Park in Toronto on a hot and steamy Saturday, at the lakeshore location. He cut the starting ribbon to great fanfare, and then the skies burst open to give everyone a late-morning shower.

The downpour didn’t dampen Bell’s reaction to being the event’s first National Hero. “I was amazed at how many people came up to me and congratulated me on being the National Hero. It was very humbling,” he says.

Bell first took part in Parkinson SuperWalk last year because he wanted to support Parkinson’s research. He also wanted to tell people about the disease, and ask them to help fund the search for a cure. “It was a time in my life that I wanted to share my Parkinson’s with people that did not know about my condition,” says Bell. “I got overwhelming support from friends and family. In many ways, participating in Parkinson SuperWalk has been a part of my healing process.”

Other nominated provincial heroes also led a Parkinson SuperWalk, including: Natasha McCarthy in Charlottetown; Joan Gilroy in Halifax; Jim Pattman in Saint John; Deena Helm in Edmonton; June Benaschak in Saskatoon; Diana Rachlis in Ottawa and Bridget Thompson in Winnipeg. Congratulations to them all.

Parkinson Canada salutes all of the everyday heroes – walkers, volunteers, donors and sponsors and everyone who helped make Parkinson SuperWalk a success once again. If you missed out for some reason, you can still be a hero and make a SuperWalk donation online until October 30.